It had been my intent during the month of December to slowly put together an episode using clips from conversations with a few homeless men to address the issue of homelessness. However, the vision for that episode was quickly changed as I joined many of you in witnessing through media the events going on in Syria. Now, I know the video below has caused some partisan arguments, but when my sister and I were hanging out in December and came across this, the human element of it struck me to the core.
After seeing that and reflecting on the dark side of humanity a bit with my sister and with myself, I felt it was important to extend the subject of this episode to address the idea of remembering the downtrodden among us and in distant places.
As you listen to the podcast, I spend time quoting from news stories about the war in Syria and refugee camps. There are also a few thoughts from a first hand observer who spent time in Greece this last year, working with refugees. The latter part of the episode transitions to hearing from a few homeless men in the U.S. and hearing about how they got to where they are, what life looks like as a homeless person and what they want in life.
You can listen to the embedded media below for the podcast, or find it on iTunes or SoundCloud, just look for episode 12.
I truly hope that when ever we individually and collectively confront human tragedy in our own countries or through media that we spend time reflecting on why those people are in a position of being downtrodden. I hope that reflection brings compassion and in that compassion, I hope we find ourselves moved to action.
The letter written to the BBC about conditions in Aleppo that was read in the podcast can be found here.
The Nick Miller article in the Sydney Morning Herald, also read in the podcast can be found here.
The episode image includes an image taken from the below tweet in addition to photos I personally took.
In this episode we talk about what happened recently in Eastern Aleppo, Syria and the human effects of war. We also talk about refugees and contemplate the issue of remembering the downtrodden after their difficulties leave the headlines. We also bring the idea of remembering the downtrodden home to the United States as we hear clips of conversations with three homeless men.
Music from this episode included:
The song Fanfarl by Titus 12. Music by the artist can be found at the below site
The other day, I was just hanging out in Willits, CA and thinking about how I need to have more courage to approach strangers to see if they’ll let me talk to them and record our conversation. As I was thinking about this, a homeless man said hello to me as I walked into a store. He followed in shortly after and we both crossed paths at the checkout line. I waited for him outside and asked if we could chat. We went around the corner to get out of the rain and he started to open up his world to me.
In the clips from this clip-isode, you hear a lot about Flip’s desire to love and be loved. We were just talking about various subjects and like a lightning strike of a revelation, he stopped and said, “I’ve got something to say to the world, ‘I love you, from Flip.'” And what better message is there? I love you! Here’s this homeless man, and that’s his message.
I’ve noted in writing about other conversations, that it would be really easy to reduce people to a singular narrative or idea, but reality is always complex. In talking with Flip, I felt like I was being invited into someone’s dreamland. The beauty of a desire to love and be loved was painted as we talked, but vivid nightmarish experiences were talked about as well. Flip spoke of places no person should ever see, of being around tormented souls. He spoke of seeing his own death. I could easily dismiss his stories and wonder what is real, as he sat there drinking, but this was his reality. This is the life, mind, and heart of Flip.
Through the subjects that he didn’t want to talk about and the dark corners of his life that he wouldn’t wish on anyone else, love emerged as his theme. His complexity was honored, but love is what he desires. What was so striking is his acknowledgement of the fact that he’s not perfect and that there would be barriers to having that love, yet in the face of that reality, love is still the desire.
Here’s to hoping that we each give that love. Sometimes those that need it are the last ones we would think to give it to, but how simple it is to show. Love was demonstrated as we sat together and a passerby handed a can of mango juice to Flip without saying a word. He felt connected in that moment. I could see it and feel it as he contemplated the action for a brief moment. Love.